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Christmas bus

         Christmas 2020 was put on hold until we were released from enough covid controls to be able to celebrate together. If our Christmas had been last year in December, then Grandson would have only been a few months old, but this year, when we celebrated it in May, he was a lot more aware of his surroundings and although he didn’t actually know it was Christmas, he did get to enjoy dinner with us at the table, and of course, was able to investigate his presents for himself.

         We usually do our Christmas on Boxing Day. When we were younger, many, many moons ago, before my girls were even just “twinkles in Daddy’s eyes”, we used to have two Christmases each year, one at Mum-in-law’s house on Christmas Day, and another with my Mum and Dad on whichever day my Dad’s shifts allowed. This worked really well, until Eldest Daughter’s first Christmas. I remember it well, not because of it being Eldest’s first, she would have only been about four months, so her second Christmas would have been more memorable for that reason, but because it was the first year for many that my Dad’s shifts had allowed him to be home on Christmas Day.

         Being the first time for ages that my family had been able to celebrate on the 25th, it was to be a special occasion, but Christmas Day with Hubby’s family had become the normal thing to do and so this left us with the dilemma of choosing which celebration to go to, and which set of parents to offend.

         In the end, we chose to start with Eldest’s first Christmas as the first Christmas we stayed at home in our new family unit. We bought a round “Bernard Matthew’s” roast which was pretty much the limit of my culinary skills then, and I was to cook Christmas Dinner for us to eat at home.

         Hubby went out on the 24th and celebrated a little too hard so was very hung over on the 25th, and after cooking “the roast” I abandoned the rest of the culinary delights and just sliced it to make turkey sandwiches for Christmas Dinner. All in all, I think that year ranks right at the top of the worst Christmas we’ve had.

         When my girls were of school age, Hubby’s shifts often meant that he had to work on Christmas Day so our Christmas would move around the season to wherever it fitted best. When they started dating seriously, and the inevitable clash of Christmas Day at which family arose, both Hubby and myself remembered how family politics had spoiled our Christmas on that one particular year and we moved our Christmas to Boxing Day from then on to avoid a clash and the Girls always went to Boyfriend’s for Christmas Day.

        Boxing Day buffet became a tradition in our house, and so, as I always leave things to the last possible moment, the tradition of me spending Christmas Day wrapping presents also began.

         Christmas 2020 with the girls had been arranged for early January but when covid caused celebrations to be limited to just one day, our Christmas was delayed… And so was my wrapping of the presents.

         During the first few months of 2021, I returned one or two of the presents I’d bought and exchanged a couple more to work around the delay. I also watched from a distance as Grandson, like many children before him, expressed an interest in packaging rather than presents.

         Much like the rest of Britain, we shopped online and receives many boxes of varying shapes and sizes. One box in particular grabbed my attention and saved itself from the recycle bin. In true “Blue Peter” style, I covered it in a roll of “sticky backed plastic”, and turned it into a bus.

         I unpackaged any of Grandson’s presents which didn’t require adult supervision and put them into the box for him to discover for himself, and I bought a toddler’s steering wheel which made appropriate driving noises when buttons were pressed. The day before our Christmas. I added the batteries to the steering wheel, and the red bus became the packaging.

         With complete covid restrictions not due to be lifted until June, Christmas was arranged to take place in Younger Daughter’s garden. Different pieces of garden furniture and different pieces of Christmas Dinner arrived from different directions and ten of us sat down to a Christmas roast dinner in the garden in the middle of May… Complete with crackers, Christmas hats and traditionally bad jokes.

         After surviving 2020 with all covid had to throw at us, it was wonderful to all be together again. I think even my cooking of christmas dinner might have been accepted with a smile.

         Grandson enjoyed his bus, and of course, Hubby and myself, we enjoyed real live cuddles with Grandson.

         Eldest Daughter and Son-in-law liked the bus too. A bag of ball-pit balls provided the finishing touch, and I have it on very good authority that if you listen carefully you can catch the sound of Grandson pressing buttons on his musical steering wheel while being pushed around the room in his bus by Son-in-law… Accompanied by the appropriate beeping and brrrumming noises as required of course.

         More from before: a variety of “visitors and visitees“, and a little peek further into the world that I’ve “Created“.

Mojo skydive

          Oh, hello mojo… there you are …

          My creative “Mojo” has been stretched to its limit during the last year (along with the rest of my poor marbles) … stretched even to the point where I cancelled bookings at future craft fayres and announced my intention to step back from my knotting at the craft shop.

          Locked away from the usual smiles from family and friends, I sank deeper and deeper into myself, a spiralling freefall into the safety of my own little world. I still worked at my supermarket, hidden behind my “Mask“, but I pushed that into dreamland to be able to cope with it. The real world, with its strange new normality went on around me, but it grew further and further away into the distance.

          I brought my “Macramé” stock home during the latest lockdown as Bead Lady was worried the shop might not make it through and would never reopen. I had a request to make a tree of life similar to two small ones I had advertised online. Although I don’t usually do orders I accepted and knotted away until I was happy enough with the tree. Unfortunately the customer wasn’t happy with it and wanted changes made. Undoing knots is more difficult than making them, so we agreed to go our different ways and the tree went into stock.

          Meanwhile I busied myself with the “Finishing and fixing” about the house and gazed out into the garden looking for signs of spring.

          As with most mental sky-dives, there is not much you can do about it until you actually realise you’re falling. The more you pull yourself into your centre, the faster you go and everything on the outside becomes a blur. The outside has no influence on you and practically no one can reach into the fireball you’ve created around yourself.

         When you do realise you’re falling it takes an enormous amount of everything to reach out for help, but that small movement of just reaching out makes such a difference, the rate of falling is slowed, and a small amount of control is returned.

          I’ve been on the other side of a mental skydive too, I’ve been on the outside of the fireball of self distruction. The feeling of helplessness is almost overwhelming. But the biggest and most helpful thing you can do is to just be there, to just stick around, no matter how helpless you feel, to let the person inside the fireball feel that they are able to reach out to you with no fear of judgement or recrimination. Just be there.

          I reached out and Hubby was there, waiting.

          Many, many, many moons ago on a previous skydive I reached out to the doctor for a magic cure for “The Grumpiness” .. There isn’t one as such, but she did give me a parachute. A little box of pills which although they don’t make happy thoughts, they do hold on to even the minutest of happy thoughts you manage to find for yourself.

          I’ve managed to find a few more “Positive” thoughts and have been building on them. I’ve been helping Bead Lady to organise the craft shop ready for a grand re-opening after April 12th, and I’ve found a little mojo to make a start on some new knotting … I’ve even bought myself some more wooden beads to play with.

          I caught sight of my reflection and realised I had become the old lady who used to jump in front of me at the mirror, I had very few clothes which still fitted me and I didn’t dare stand on the scales for fear of them being rude to me. I enlisted the help and encouragement of my girls and Little Sister, and abandoned the majority of the nice food in favour of more healthy options.

          The healthier fuel helped, as the balance dropped downwards on one side with the loss of a few pounds, the mood lifted on the other with a few extra smiles.

          As for the old lady? Crows feet wrinkles around the eyes from smiles are much more attractive than frown furrows in the brow. And the hair? I’ve been toying with letting the grey grow through, but I think maybe the extra effort to keep my colour for a little longer may be worth it… At least until a little more of the pearly white beneath is established.

          With small movements I’m gradually finding happy thoughts again and my pills are helping me to hold onto them. Little by little my fireball is turning back I to a bubble and I can see through to life outside.

          I’m no longer speeding towards hot black volcanic rock. My decent has slowed and I can see trees and grass in the distance.

          I’m not looking for sympathy, concern, or even acceptance of the up’s and down’s of living inside my head. I just want to let anyone living in a world such as mine that they’re not alone. And to assure them that when they are brave enough to reach out for help, someone will be there waiting.

          More from before: A little peek further into the world that I’ve “Created“.